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Volume 617: debated on Tuesday 22 November 2016

2. What discussions he has had with his counterparts in the EU, Africa and the middle east on tackling the refugee situation in Europe and the middle east. (907402)

Ministerial colleagues and I regularly discuss migration with our European and international partners. The UK will continue to play a leading role towards securing a co-ordinated and comprehensive approach to the migration crisis that tackles the causes as well as the consequences of unmanaged migration.

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer, but what reassurance can he give me and my constituents that he and the Prime Minister are working with the international community to help resolve this terrible situation?

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave exactly that reassurance when she set out, at the United Nations in September, three key principles to improve the international response to the mass movement of refugees and migrants: the protection in the first safe country of arrival; the right of states to maintain their borders; and a clearer distinction between refugees and economic migrants. We are pursuing this agenda vigorously with our international colleagues.

Is the Minister aware of the rising levels of violence directed towards those in refugee camps on the island of Chios, including volunteers? Is he aware that on 16 November the camp at Souda was attacked by about 60 members of the far-right group New Dawn? Boulders were thrown into containers containing refugee women and children. Following that, three volunteers, two of whom are UK citizens, were arrested by the Greek police. Can he assure me that every support will be given to UK citizens volunteering in that area to ensure that their rights are protected?

The right hon. Gentleman makes a perfectly fair point. I hope that everybody in this House fully condemns any such violence. Behind that bad news, however, there is some better news. Since the EU-Turkey agreement, the number of migrants arriving on Greek islands has reduced significantly from an average of about 1,500 in February to just over 100 a day now.

I believe that my right hon. Friend visited Turkey recently. Does he agree that Turkey plays an important role in helping refugees and managing the whole process, and that our relations with Turkey will become increasingly important in this regard?

My hon. Friend is right. I have been to Turkey twice and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has been there, too. The UK is committed to the successful implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement, which started in March this year. For that to work well, we need to retain good and constructive diplomatic engagement with countries, including Turkey.

Has the Minister had any pause for thought about the commitment of the UK Government and EU member states to engage and fund President Bashir’s regime, as partners in the management of migration?